The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has confirmed the start of football matches across the country this weekend will be postponed by five minutes as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces took to the streets of Kyiv today with national guard troops pictured lining up defensive positions along a highway shortly before the sounds of gunfire and explosions rang out as they battled Russian forces for control of the capital.
The invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early hours of Thursday morning, has drawn condemnation from all over the globe.
And Italy’s national football governing body has now taken action and has confirmed the games will now kick-off five minutes later than had been scheduled.
A FIGC statement read: ‘Italian football takes the field united for peace. This is the message that the Italian Football Federation wants to send in such a complex moment for international equilibrium by deciding to postpone the kick-off of all the official matches scheduled for the weekend by five minutes.
‘Without distinction, professionals and amateurs, will unite in a single witness of peace, raising awareness among fans and supporters on respect for human life and on the need to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.’
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina added: ‘The universal values of sport require us to reflect, we do not want to turn the other way.
‘Interpreting a widespread sentiment in Italian public opinion, which also crosses our world, we want to send a clear message: the national football movement is sensitive and very concerned about what is happening in these hours.
The start of all football matches in Italy will be delayed by five minutes this weekend as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The invasion ordered by Vladimir Putin has drawn condemnation from all over the globe
‘Sport is not about politics, but it wants peace.’
The protest will be implemented today, when table-toppers AC Milan face Udinese in the early evening in the first match of the Serie A weekend.
The measure will also be extended to Serie B, Serie C and all the games in the minor leagues.
Meanwhile, Premier League players, managers and fans have the green light to protest against the Russian invasion by displaying Ukraine flags at their games this weekend in a show of solidarity for the besieged nation.
The FA will not consider the presence of flags on the pitch or in the stands as a breach of their rules. The governing body usually prohibit anything construed as a political message.
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina added that while sport is not politics, it does want peace
FIGC’s measure will be extended to all Serie A, Serie B, Serie C and all the games in the minor leagues
It comes as the Premier League’s Ukrainian players voiced their anguish on social media, including Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, Everton’s Vitalii Mykolenko and West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko.
Everton host City in a televised fixture on Saturday evening and will display a banner in support of Mykolenko and Ukraine.
The FA will monitor activities in all their fixtures this weekend and will investigate players or officials who protest on a case-by-case basis. Should any players reveal politically charged shirts in reference to the Russian invasion, they will be liable to sanctions. Displaying the Ukraine flag will not get clubs into trouble.
In Kyiv, Putin’s men are now thought to be inside the city, though their exact location and number is unclear.
The protest will be implemented from this evening when AC Milan face Udinese
Premier League players, managers and fans have the green light to protest against the Russian invasion
Fighting was reported in Obolon, on the city’s outskirts, in the early hours as the ministry of defence told residents to make Molotov cocktails to ‘repel the occupiers’. Russian forces were also spotted in Vorzel, Bucha, Irpen districts.
The Russian troops are thought to have arrived from the north-east, having pushed down from Chernobyl which was captured late yesterday. More Russian troops and armour are advancing on the capital from Konotop, in the east, having bypassed the city of Chernihiv where they ran into heavy Ukrainian resistance.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said today will be the war’s ‘hardest day’.
Once Kyiv is surrounded, US intelligence believes the plan will be for Russian special forces to move in and seize an airport – likely Sikorsky or Boryspil – which would then be used to fly in a much larger force of up to 10,000 paratroopers who would assault the capital.
Premier League stars, like Man City’s Zinchenko, have shown their support for Ukraine